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Val Kilmer health: Actor's voice dubbed in new Top Gun as throat damaged in cancer battle

Daily Express logo Daily Express 13/06/2022 Luke Whelan
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Those watching Top Gun: Maverick will notice the return of the character Tom 'Iceman' Kazansky - Tom Cruises' rival in the first movie. What they probably won't notice, however, is that his voice was dubbed using artificial intelligence by a company called Sonantic. The actor's daughter Mercedes Kilmer gave the revelation in a New York Post interview. "They were able to dub him with his own voice, which is amazing," she said.

Behind the camera, the man who plays Iceman, Val Kilmer, is still experiencing the consequences of treatment for a throat cancer battle that left him with a hole in his neck to help him breathe.

The star, now 62, was diagnosed with the illness in 2015 but remained quiet about it for two years until he posted about it online during a social media ask me anything session on Reddit.

Later, he told the New York Times that he was reluctant to even have treatment - which would turn out to be intensive.

Before he became cured in 2016, he had to undergo radiation and chemotherapy multiple times, and receive surgery.

Read more: Cancer: The drink that may raise your risk of cancer 'by 70% or more' - it's not alcohol Val Kilmer © Getty Val Kilmer

It left him with permanent damage to his vocal cords, as well as a tracheostomy.

The NHS explains that a tracheostomy is when an opening is created in the front of the neck to fit a tube inside the windpipe which helps with breathing.

Macmillan cancer support states: "A temporary tracheostomy is sometimes done to make it easier to breathe after certain operations or before radiotherapy for head and neck cancer."

Kilmer shared details about his procedure with Good Morning America in the past, explaining that it was done to "help me breathe because the glands in my throat swelled up as well"

Since first opening up about it on Reddit, he has not shied away from talking about the issue. He even discussed it in a 2020 documentary about him called Val.

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"I obviously am sounding much worse than I feel," the star says while covering the hole in his throat.

"I can speak without plugging this hole. You have to make the choice to breathe or to eat...

"It's an obstacle that is very present with whoever sees me."

Val Kilmer health © GETTY Val Kilmer health

Doctors in the UK, "do not tend to use the term 'throat cancer', as the throat (pharynx) includes many different parts that can be affected by cancer," explains the NHS.

These areas include the oropharynx, hypopharynx, and nasopharynx.

According to Mayo Clinic, the term can also refer to cancer in the voice box - known as the larynx.

Val Kilmer © GETTY Val Kilmer

Some of the symptoms you may experience from cancer in one of these areas, include coughing, difficulty swallowing, and weight loss, Mayo Clinic states.

Other symptoms include:

  • Ear pain
  • A lump that doesn't heal
  • Vocal changes such as hoarseness.

Kilmer never shared specifically what caused his cancer but there are several factors known to increase your risk of getting the disease.

Smoking, excess alcohol use, and viral infections such as the sexually transmitted HPV virus, and a diet lacking in fruit and vegetables are all known to be significant risk factors.

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